New CTA rail cars change hated configuration, create Chicago jobs

When the CTA board approved a $1.3 billion contract for new rail cars, it accomplished two things:

  1. It changed the hated aisle-facing seating configuration (for the most part).
  2. It created 170 local jobs in Chicago, as the Chinese manufacturer will build a $40 million plant to build the cars.

CTA 7000 Series Rail CarCSR Sifang America JV, a Chinese company, will build 846 cars at a new South Side manufacturing facility. Prototype models are expected to be complete in 2019. Following testing, the cars will go into service in 2020.

The new rails cars will feature of mix of forward-facing and aisle-facing seats, a seating configuration designed to ensure customer comfort while maximizing passenger flow and capacity.

The design, similar to the seating configuration on Brown Line trains, was based on studies CTA conducted to solicit feedback from CTA riders on preferences related to seating and design— the first time the CTA has sought rider input on seating layout.

Once delivery of the new rail cars is complete, the CTA will have its youngest rail fleet in decades—reducing the average age of CTA rail cars from 26 years in 2011 to 11 years when the 7000-series are delivered. The new rail cars are projected to save the CTA about $7 million annually in reduced maintenance costs and reduced use of power.


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  • Personally, I've never had a problem with the inward facing seats. However, I can see why many people might no like them.

    That said, I can't see why they kept the inward facing seats at the ends of the cars. If they were universally hated, how did customer surveys lead them to keep any inward seats (besides the ones nearest the doors)?

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Sounds like a compromise between all the riders who hate inward facing seats and the CTA Officials who created them!

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    You're one of the rare few that likes them.
    Even the CTA recently said they had no idea that people's legs would stick out into the center aisle.
    But the new cars aren't going to have the seat configuration that CTA had shown a couple of years ago when the 7000s were announced. There are far too inward facing seats at the car ends.

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    I didn't say I like them. I said I've never had a problem with them. Given that I rarely sit when I ride due to the overcrowding on the trains, I'm neutral on the whole thing.

    Frankly, if it was up to me, I'd have one or two cars per 8-car trainset that had zero seats.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    I'm annoyed that they listened to complaints about the seating. When the train is crowded enough for the seating to make a difference as to whether you get a seat, there are only even a few extra seats. Then fewer people can get in standing and often at rush hour folks wind up having to wait for the next one (or two or three). This is mass transit. Everyone needs to suck it up so everyone can get home and to work, not kowtow to the very small percentage of people on either end of the lines who have the option of a seat at rush hour.

  • I guess it's the reality of today's world that we have to have a foreign manufacturer build the cars. With the country's aging infrastructure, and ever-growing traffic problems, one would think that a U.S. builder could get enough business to make a go of it.

  • In reply to SpinyNorman:

    Hasn't been the case since Morrison Knudsen went out of the business about 20 years ago (but it was assembling Japanese shells for Metra), but the real end was when Budd and Pullman Standard went out of business in the 1980s. The major bus builders are foreign, too (New Flyer and Nova) and while ostensibly Canadian, are subsidiaries of Brazilian and Swedish companies (Marco Polo and Volvo).

    One can see the issue that if the CTA L system doesn't expand beyond the 190 car option in this order, it won't be eligible to buy new cars to replace the 5000s and 7000s for 13 years after #7846.

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